Panel: Improving supports, access and employment outcomes for young people with disability

Youth Servicing is core to the current review around the future of disability employment services. Young people are disadvantaged in the labour market, and young people with disability experience unemployment rates twice that of the rest of the population.

Young people with disability who are employed experience many social, health and economic benefits. Conversely, those who are unemployed and are not in education or training are disadvantaged.

The time to evaluate current employment programs to gain a better understanding of the supports young people need is now. A new disability employment support model should include early intervention for young people transitioning into employment.

In this session, panellists will identify key issues regarding young people with disability seeking employment.

Specifically, they will discuss
• unemployment,
• under-employment,
• poor workforce participation rates for young people with disability,
• the role of skills development, training and pathways into employment, and
• key components for better engagement, participation and employment for young people with disability.

The panellists will follow the discussion a question and answer session.


MC Brett de Hoedt Mayor, Hootville Communications

Upon learning of the impending pandemic via his sources in Wuhan, Brett decamped to a secret bunker underneath the Four Seasons Hotel to refine his emceeing skills with guidance from a Master Master of Ceremonies.

Now he has emerged into the spotlight, able to introduce guests in semaphore, facilitate underwater panel discussions and forcibly induct strangers into the Disability Employment Australia Hall of Fame.

To stay ‘match fit’ our erstwhile host has been staging mock-conferences in pathology laboratories, vaccination hubs and various Chemist Warehouses. In his personal life Brett devotes himself to anti-vax conspiracy theorising, empathy training and door-to-door Ivermectin marketing.

He is triple vaxed and 13-times our emcee.

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Saxon Phipps Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Year 13

Saxon Phipps is Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Year13.

Year13 is an EdTech company that uses data and technology to introduce young people to education and employment — democratising opportunity and preparing them for the ever-changing world of work.

Year13 is closing the gap on a 20th century approach to vocational learning. The organisation aims to develop generations of young people into productive, resilient and passionate workers.

The team at Year 13 applies this principle to several youth engagement strategies and programs for the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, Engineers Australia and the Industry Skills Organisations (Digital, Mining and Human Services).

Saxon speaks regularly at events on youth issues, and has featured at The Australian Financial Review – Higher Education Summit and the Australian Davos Connection: Future of Education Summits.

He is also on the advisory board for the National Careers Institute and Initiative for the Federal Government’s Department of Education Skills and Employment.

Kat Reed CEO, Women with Disability ACT

Kat (they/them/theirs) has been a local queer and disability advocate and community builder in the ACT for the last eight years. They are currently the CEO of Women With Disabilities ACT and a Board Director of Women With Disabilities Australia and of the Youth Coalition of the ACT. Kat was recently awarded 2021 Young Canberra Citizen of the Year and was one of Out for Australia’s — 30 Under 30 winners, for 2021.

As a person with disability, Kat’s policy interests include prevention of violence against women with disabilities, sexual and reproductive health, and leadership and the inclusion and representation of young women with disabilities. Their activism and community building work spans many different intersections. Since the age of 17, they have advocated for the rights of people of colour, queer youth, trans and non-binary people and people with disabilities.

They’ve held positions of leadership in both local and national organisations, including the ANU Students’ Association and have led the Australian Queer Students’ Network as the National Co-Convenor. Kat was a Council member on the ACT LGBTIQ+ Ministerial Advisory Council and advised on issues affecting queer youth from 2015-2018.

Martin Wren CEO, Nova Employment

Martin Wren is the Chief Executive Officer of NOVA Employment; a Sydney based Disability Employment Service (DES) that has supported the vocational aspirations of young people with disability for more than 30 years.
Well known for speaking out on the rights of young people with disability to find and sustain employment in award-wage jobs, Martin believes the secret to ensuring there are jobs for each person with a disability lies in matching individual aspiration and abilities to available opportunity.
Over the years he has been humbled by the many young men and women he’s seen achieve their place as taxpayers. Martin is proud to have witnessed over 17,000 job seekers successfully supported by NOVA gain work in open employment.
Not content with a full-time job, in 2009, Martin began the Focus on Ability Film Festival, a project designed to highlight the achievements of people with disability. With more than 1700 films from more than 50 countries, Focus on Ability represents a unique resource that recognises the power of film to challenge people’s fixed beliefs and perceptions about the lives and abilities of people with disability around the world.
Martin is the author of The 10 Demandments – how to improve employment services for people with disability. Finally, Martin is also a watermelon baron.

Cecile Sullivan Elder Executive Officer, Family Advocacy

Cecile has been the Executive Officer at Family Advocacy for the past seven years, but has been involved in the disability sector for over 25. Her many roles in the sector have included leading post school services, teaching Disability Studies, working as a Community Visitor with the Ombudsman Department and, more broadly, advocating for change management within the disability service sector and associated systems.

Cecile is passionate about people with disability being supported to thrive in their local community — whether that be attending the local school alongside neighbourhood friends, accessing paid employment whilst at school or generally having the right supports to access the opportunities society has to offer.

The role of families is critical in the realisation of all this. Family Advocacy’s work (both in advocacy and capacity building) is aimed at strengthening the knowledge, skills and confidence of families to speak up and to advocate for the authentic inclusion of their family member with disability.

At the conference, Cecile will be discussing Family Advocacy’s School to Work project, which is part of the organisation’s Resourcing Inclusive Communities initiative. School to Work spans NSW, QLD and the ACT, and aims to inspire and equip students with disability through the support of families, with the aim of seeking meaningful paid employment in the community.

Dr Darren Coppin Chief Behavioural Scientist, Azurum Pty Ltd

Dr Darren Coppin is a behavioural scientist devoted to applying psychological science to the real world and real policy. His resilience, change and wellbeing programs have been rolled out with over one-third of a million jobseekers, apprentices, corporates and students across Australia, the UK, the USA and Denmark.
Darren grew his business to deliver academically-informed programs, before it was acquired by private equity and floated on the stock market in 2019. He is halfway through writing a book on behavioural science and our everyday lives, titled, It’s all BS!